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Criminal Jury Instructions

Criminal Jury Instructions Home

4.5-9  Perjury -- 53a-156

Revised to May 20, 2011

The defendant is charged [in count ___] with perjury.  The statute defining this offense reads in pertinent part as follows: 

a person is guilty of perjury if, in any official proceeding, (he/she) intentionally, (under oath / in an unsworn foreign declaration), (makes a false statement / swears, affirms or testifies falsely), to a material statement which (he/she) does not believe to be true.

For you to find the defendant guilty of this charge, the state must prove the following elements beyond a reasonable doubt:  

Element 1 - Testimony at an official proceeding
The first element is that the testimony was given at an official proceeding (under oath / in an unsworn foreign declaration)1.  An "official proceeding" is any proceeding held or that may be held before any legislative, judicial, administrative or other agency or official authorized to take evidence under oath, including any referee, hearing examiner, commissioner or notary or other person taking evidence in connection with any proceeding.  The defendant must have, in the presence of an officer authorized to administer an oath, unequivocally taken upon (himself/herself) the obligation of an oath. 

Element 2 - Intentionally made false statement
The second element is that the defendant intentionally (made a false statement / swore, affirmed, or testified falsely) knowing or believing the statement to be false.  The testimony must have been intentionally and deliberately given falsely and not through inadvertence or by mistake; that is, it was the defendant's specific intent to deceive, and the defendant made the statements knowing or believing that they were false.

<See Intent: Specific, Instruction 2.3-1, and Knowledge, Instruction 2.3-3.>

The state must prove that the defendant made a statement that was untrue in fact and that the defendant believed that it was false.2

The truth or falsity of the defendant's testimony cannot be proved solely on the basis of the uncorroborated testimony of a single witness, even if you find that witness's testimony credible.  Rather, it requires corroborated proof through independent and material facts and circumstances supplementing the testimony of the single witness.  The corroborative testimony must be of such a character that, when taken in connection with all the other testimony, the falsity of the testimony is established beyond a reasonable doubt. 

Element 3 - Material to the proceedings
The third element is that the statement made by the defendant was a statement material to the proceedings.  The test of materiality is whether the false testimony was capable of influencing or had the potential to influence the fact finder in deciding the issues.3  

[Affirmative Defense4
The statute defining this offense also defines an affirmative defense, which the defendant has raised. <See Affirmative Defense, Instruction 2.9-1.

The defendant claims that (he/she) was coerced into giving the false testimony. Coercion has two elements. <
Insert the elements from Coercion, Instruction 6.12-1.>]

Conclusion

In summary, the state must prove beyond a reasonable doubt that 1) the defendant gave testimony at an official proceeding (under oath / in an unsworn foreign declaration), 2) the defendant intentionally gave false testimony, and 3) the statement was material to the proceedings.

[<If defendant has not raised the affirmative defense:> If you unanimously find that the state has proved beyond a reasonable doubt each of the elements of the crime of perjury, then you shall find the defendant guilty.  On the other hand, if you unanimously find that the state has failed to prove beyond a reasonable doubt any of the elements, you shall then find the defendant not guilty.]

[<If defendant has raised the affirmative defense:> If you unanimously find that the state has failed to prove beyond a reasonable doubt any of the elements of the crime of perjury, you shall then find the defendant not guilty and not consider the defendant's affirmative defense.

If you unanimously find that the state has proved beyond a reasonable doubt each of the elements, then you shall consider the defendant's affirmative defense. If you unanimously find that the defendant has proved (his/her) defense by a preponderance of the evidence, then you shall find the defendant not guilty. If you unanimously find that the defendant has not proved (his/her) affirmative defense by a preponderance of the evidence, then you shall find the defendant guilty.]
_______________________________________________________

1 The Uniform Unsworn Foreign Declarations Act was adopted by P.A. No. 10-33, effective October 1, 2010. It applies to declarations made by person while physically located outside of the United States. See General Statutes 1-65aa through 1-65hh for the requirements that must be met to qualify as an unsworn foreign declaration.

2 It may be inferred from proof of the falsity of the statement, that the defendant knew the statement was false. State v. Kimber, 48 Conn. App. 234, 243, cert. denied, 245 Conn. 902 (1998); State v. Fantasia, 5 Conn. App. 552 (1985), cert. denied, 199 Conn. 806 (1986).

3 The materiality of the statement, as an element of perjury, is a question for the jury. United States v. Gaudin, 515 U.S. 506, 522-23, 115 S.Ct. 2310, 132 L.Ed.2d 444 (1995) (repudiating prior case law that held it was a pure question of law for the court); see also State v. Paige, 304 Conn. 426, 446 (2012).

4 The affirmative defense was added by P.A. No. 10-180, 7, which became effective on June 8, 2010.

Commentary

On the "one-witness-plus-corroboration" rule, see State v. Iassogna, 95 Conn. App. 780, 787-92 (2006); State v. Meehan, 260 Conn. 372, 386-88 (2002); State v. Sanchez, 204 Conn. 472 (1987).  A conviction cannot rest solely "on the basis of [a witness's] in-court testimony corroborated by her out-of-court written statement."  State v. Iassogna, supra, 95 Conn. App. 791.  The corroborative evidence "must tend to show the perjury independently of the testimony which it is intended to corroborate."  State v. Sanchez, supra, 204 Conn. 482.

A defendant may be convicted of multiple counts of perjury arising from testimony regarding the same general subject "when each false sworn statement requires its own proof of falsity involving facts unique to that particular statement."  State v. Servello, 80 Conn. App. 313, 326 (2003), cert. denied, 267 Conn. 914 (2004).

A statement that is literally true, though unresponsive and misleading, is not punishable as perjury.  Bronston v. United States, 409 U.S. 352, 360, 93 S.Ct. 595, 34 L.Ed.2d 568 (1973) ("[t]he burden is on the questioner to pin the witness down to the specific object of the questioner's inquiry").
 


 

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